In one of the first episodes of “Little House on the Prairie,” Caroline Ingalls brings a basket of eggs to sell to the mercantile. Shop owner Harriet Oleson says she doesn’t pay as much for brown eggs as for white. Did Mrs. Oleson know something way back then?
Are white eggs better than brown? What about the current jargon of “free-range,” “cage-free” and organic? Is one type better for you than the others?
Not really, experts say, but it can be confusing for consumers.
“Despite the latest research and the 2020 Dietary Guidelines giving eggs a green light in healthy eating, conflicting info still swirls in the media and online,” Jess DeGore, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian and owner of DietitianJess.com, told Fox News.
“With claims and confusion surrounding various types, choosing the right egg can be a challenge for consumers who are seeking optimal health benefits,” she added.
Registered dietitian Bethany Thayer might have summed it up best: “Scrambled information about eggs may have you wondering what shell to crack” to support your health.
Thayer, the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health in Detroit, told the news site the color of the shell has nothing to do with the nutritional benefits of the egg.
“Some people are under the impression that eggs with brown shells are nutritionally superior to those with white shells. This is not true,” she said. “The color of the shell comes from the color of the hen.”
Apparently, hens with brown feathers and earlobes will lay brown eggs, and those with white feathers and earlobes produce white eggs. Nutritionally they are the same, Thayer said.
As for the labels found on cartons, Thayer calls them “marketing tools” that have little to do with how healthy the egg is.
“Cage-free means the hens live in an open barn with bedding material, perches and nest boxes to lay their eggs — while free-range is a term used to indicate that the hen has continuous, free access to the out-of-doors for over 51% of the animals’ lives — but (that) does not ensure that the animal actually went outdoors,” she said. “Organic means that the hen was raised uncaged and was free to roam as well as fed (with) organic feed.”
None of these labels make one type of egg better than others, DeGore said, but the lack of synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones in organic brands can be a bonus.
“Most of the nutritional differences between different egg varieties are minimal, so I don’t think it’s a decision to stress over. Instead, choose what best fits your preferences,” DeGore told Fox News.